#12 Daft Punk – Homework
One of my new year’s resolutions was to see things more, look at things differently: food; art; relationships; surroundings. Be aware. Breathe more. Be mindful.
In all my years at all the Welsh train stations, I hadn’t noticed this before. I mean, obviously times, destinations, platforms and so on are always announced in Welsh and English. This pleases me but must mildly irritate hurried monolinguists trying to hear which platform the delayed 15:26 back to Llundain is going from.
What I hadn’t noticed until last week, is that even if it’s the same word, the English announcements actually pronounce the Welsh station name in English. Even if it’s the same word! This makes no sense. Especially as the Welsh announcement goes just before it; there’s no excuse that the recorded announcer couldn’t pronounce it or didn’t know how to. It’s literally just been said. Copy it.
I’m not talking about Brecon/Aberhonddu or Bridgend/Pen-y-bont. That’s clear – one is in Welsh, the other in English. I’m talking about places that don’t have a translation – the Caernarfons, Llanellis. Llanelli FFS! Do they really think non-Welsh-speakers won’t know where or what Llanelli is, but will know exactly when to get off when the Welsh announcer, doing her best Nigella Lawson impression calls “all passengers for Claneckli”? This didn’t really annoy, more baffle me. When departing Berlin, I need to know where Schönefeld is, not Scone-feld. In Paris I want the Moulin Rouge, not the Mole-Inn Rogue, interesting as that may be.
Thankfully nothing is lost in translation when it comes to Daft Punk’s incredible 1997 debut studio album, Homework. You may not speak ‘dance’ or know how to translate majestic techno beats, but it doesn’t matter. This is the ultimate cross-over, novice to maestro, veteran-introducing behemoth of an electronic dance album.
You’ll know Around the World. Melodious and poppy, by now classic Daft Punk. Da Funk is a powerhouse that makes you want to ram your head inside the speaker for when the bass hits. The beats and genre-defining sounds are relentless – hi-hats on Phoenix making the most interesting 90-second drum intro you’ll need to hear.
Rollin’ & Scratchin‘ is a 7½ minute soundtrack to an epic game of giant Jenga, nerves falling like pine needles from a Christmas tree by the end. It comes as a mild relief in some ways that the back end of the album is marginally weaker in my view and doesn’t quite sustain the emotion of the charged first half, Burnin‘ being the intense exception.
The entire feast is enticing and compelling. For a dance album that screams loops, samples and repetition there’s something new every time, on almost every track. I’ve listened to it straight through 4 times in the past few weeks including once in my living room, twice on a train, once in Llanelli.
It made me think again about travel, and about music. Not much does that these days and this is 20 years old. It made me think about life, the mark of a great work of art. More than anything else, this album makes you feel like fun.
It made me re-think all my new year’s resolutions. They could be simplified. They should be everyone’s.
2018: Be daft. Be more punk. Listen to Homework.